Fleet Tracking Best Practices
- What is fleet tracking?
- What does fleet tracking software actually track?
- In what specific ways can a business benefit from fleet tracking?
- How do employees feel about fleet tracking?
Many articles and web pages discussing fleet tracking today jump right into specific details. Which tracking technology makes the most sense? How does tracking your company’s vehicles affect employee privacy rights? That sort of thing.
Very few of these pages stop to discuss the basics of this technology and why a business might want to use it. So let’s do that here, and answer some fundamental questions you might have about fleet tracking. For example:
Fleet tracking uses location-based technology to track and record both real-time and historical whereabouts of vehicles, equipment, and assets. A fleet tracking system also monitors onboard vehicle data whenever possible.
Typically, a fleet tracking solution includes a physical device and a web application that lets the business monitor data and receive alerts from all of their tracked assets.
When we say fleet tracking captures and records “onboard vehicle data,” what do we mean? These solutions can gather a wealth of information about a company’s vehicles and the other field assets the company chooses to track (containers, trailers, heavy machinery), but some of the most commonly collected details include:
Let’s deal with a common myth and fear among fleet operations managers and business owners: the myth that fleet tracking will scare off or upset the company’s field service techs and drivers.
When software maker TSheets conducted an employee survey about GPS vehicle tracking, they found some surprising answers:
Of employees who work for businesses that don’t have fleet tracking, only 16% feel positive about the technology. Worse, 38% have a negative view of it. That’s about what you’d expect, right?
In other words, just exposing your employees to GPS vehicle tracking will make them several times more likely to see it as a good thing for them and the company.
In fact, that survey revealed that employees who have used GPS vehicle tracking see specific benefits to using the technology. For example:
What all of this means is that the best way to get your employees comfortable with—and even enthusiastic about—tracking systems is simply to start using one at your company.
But you’ll need to implement this new service in a strategic, well-planned way, or you could needlessly worry and alienate your staff. If you’d like help with this process, read our free report on the right way to introduce fleet tracking to your employees.
There are many business benefits to rolling out a fleet tracking solution, so we’ll just walk you through some of the major ones here.
The latest research from Frost & Sullivan found that, on average, businesses that implement a fleet tracking solution enjoy 15% greater fleet utilization, with an increase of +13% in the number of stops and +24% more miles driven per vehicle.
Further, for construction companies, better asset utilization means more engine hours being racked up on jobsites rather than their heavy equipment gathering dust. And better scheduling of fleet maintenance means that your vehicles and equipment will spend more time making you money than sitting in the shop.
Fuel is estimated to represent about 60% of a fleet’s total operating costs. Fleet tracking systems have been shown, on average, to save:
Additional driver behavioral changes save on the order of $165 per vehicle month, bringing the average annual fuel cost savings to a whopping $2,520 per vehicle. To put it in more concrete terms, you could add another Transit Connect van to your fleet with this annual fuel cost savings alone on a 10 vehicle fleet.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics found an average annual payroll cost savings of $14,962 per vehicle for those that used IoT solutions like fleet tracking to reduce payroll hours. Plus, fleet tracking software that automates timesheets like our Virtual Timecard can streamline payroll and reduce accounting staff time.
Remember when we said earlier that one type of data fleet tracking systems can collect are fault codes? That can help a business both reduce the overall costs of its fleet maintenance and increase the average ROI of its vehicles. Here’s how.
You can think of the fleet maintenance benefits we’re about to describe as good, better, best. (And yep: your company will get all three types.)
With your GPS tracker connected to your vehicle’s onboard diagnostic system through its OBDII port, when that vehicle registers a fault code, your GPS system will immediately send a fleet maintenance alert to the appropriate people at your company.
Maybe that’s your fleet operations team, or maybe it’s just Steve, one of your trusted team members who keeps your fleet tracking system’s dashboard open on his computer all day, so he always knows where all of your vehicles are on the road.
Because you’re receiving these fleet maintenance alerts automatically as soon as one of your trucks registers a problem, you can schedule a repair appointment quickly, rather than hoping your driver notices something’s wrong, or waiting for that fault code to turn into broken-down vehicle on the side of the road and a missed appointment at a job site.
Because prevention is better than a cure, you also want to set regular maintenance appointments for your vehicles, to keep them tuned up and running smoothly, and to fix small issues before they come big ones.
With the right GPS truck tracking solution, you can do this easily. Set your GPS app to send a fleet maintenance alert when a vehicle hits a certain mileage milestone or at specific time intervals.
This way, you won’t have to waste time and resources manually checking each vehicle’s odometer or trying to maintain/monitor a calendar filled with “time for a maintenance checkup!” happy faces on different days for each of your trucks.
Oh, and the even better better news is this: with a fleet tracking solution like ClearPathGPS, you can integrate a more robust fleet maintenance solution like Fleetio or ManagerPlus right into your ClearPathGPS service. That means when your vehicle reaches a service milestone, you can set a trigger to schedule a service automatically, manage repair-order approvals electronically, etc.
Finally, when it comes to boosting the ROI of your vehicles and extending their useful lives, the real benefit of GPS trackers is the data they’ll be gathering and analyzing for you — not just from your own vehicles but from many others just like them.
In other words, rather than doing only reactive maintenance and scheduled maintenance, you can also do predictive fleet maintenance.
The best GPS fleet tracking solutions track thousands of vehicles every day, monitoring their health over millions of miles each year, in different climates and across different types of terrain. You can put all of that knowledge to work for your company — and make better decisions about when and how often to schedule your fleet maintenance.
To use an easy example, analyst firm Nucleus Research explains that motor-oil makers usually recommend changing engine oil every 3,000 miles. But analyzing real-world data might tell fleet managers they need to change their vehicles’ oil only every 5,000 miles. Knowing this could save these businesses money and reduce vehicle downtime.
Data might also show that some types of fleet maintenance should happen more frequently, not less, than conventional wisdom suggests. Again, knowing this could save your company money and help you prevent needless vehicle downtime because you waited too long to bring a truck in for service.
Unauthorized use of your company’s vehicles can hurt your company in a number of ways. For example, every time an employee takes your landscaping truck from a customer site to an off-the-record cash job without your knowledge, that employee is increasing the chances of an accident, a vehicle engine or mechanical problem, and even the opportunity for theft of whatever equipment and other company property is stored in that vehicle.
It can also expose your company to legal issues — if, for example, an employee using your company’s vehicle for an unauthorized side gig gets into an accident or gets injured.
It can even hurt your company’s reputation. Imagine your employee is in the field, finishing up a job at a customer site. But he’s arranged an off-the-books side job on his way back to your headquarters, and he has to hurry to make it on time. So the employee drives erratically, speeding across town and cutting off other drivers. Anyone who sees that fleet vehicle on the road, or gets cut off by it — or, worse still, sees it pulled over by the police or mangled in an accident — will also see your company’s name and logo.
Another great advantage of fleet tracking is that it can help your business quickly recover a stolen asset. This is particularly valuable for business that can’t afford to be without one of its vehicles — or the expensive machinery and equipment these vehicles often carry — because it could cost them business.
To use a real-world illustration of our point, a ClearPathGPS customer — landscaping business Texas Lawn Enforcement — had one of its trucks stolen from a fast-food parking lot just minutes after its crew stepped inside to order a takeout lunch.
Because that truck, like all of its vehicles, had GPS tracking, the crew called their boss, who popped open the ClearPathGPS app on his phone, and then called police and guided their chase to track down the truck.
As the company’s owner, Luke Thomas, put it, “This is the busiest time of year for us, and my team and I really can’t afford to be without our trucks and equipment for even a day. If not for the GPS tracker, I might have lost that truck, not to mention a trailer that cost several thousand dollars and equipment that me more than thirty. We would’ve had to go out right away and buy a used truck and a bunch of expensive equipment, or else we’d be losing revenue and even putting some of our customer relationships in jeopardy.” (Read the whole truck-theft story.)
This one isn’t as obvious as the many other benefits of fleet tracking, like fuel cost savings, lowered insurance premiums, and more accurate employee time cards. But having a fleet tracking solution can also help you attract high-quality employees. Here’s how.
Your safety record does a lot more than improve your insurance premiums. A strong safety record was the third most important way to reduce employee churn in EC&M’s September report.
Driver behavior reports available in your GPS fleet tracking system keep you on top of safe driving issues and vehicle maintenance reports—also available with any good GPS fleet tracking system—ensure that your fleet vehicles themselves keep your drivers as safe as possible on the road.
You’re paying your drivers for 8 hours a day each day regardless of how many stops they have. Because your GPS fleet tracking system will help your dispatchers more efficiently manage your fleet—finding better routes, always knowing which field tech is closest to a new job request, etc.—they’ll often be able to get an extra stop or two out of your drivers on a typical day. That means you’ll be able to grow your profit margins… which means you can afford to pay your employees more than before you started optimizing their routes.
A lot of business owners think GPS fleet tracking will lead to their employees feeling like they don’t trust them. But if you use your fleet tracking data to give ‘atta boys to employees with good driver behavior, stand up for them when customers question proof of service, and protect them against fraudulent accident charges, your company culture also improves.